Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview
tate greater conceptual understanding. The computer's capacity to repeat and vary large numbers of trials, as well as its ability to show the results of these trials in compressed time (and often in visual form), makes it possible to encapsulate events that are usually distributed over time and space. This can provide learners with the kinds of concrete experiences they need to build solid probabilistic intuitions.A central issue, then, is between learners using prebuilt models and learners making their own models. The ability to run prebuilt models interactively is an improvement over static textbook based approaches. By manipulating parameters of the model, users can make useful distinctions and test out some conjectures. The results of the Connected Probability project suggest that for learners to make use of these prebuilt models, they must first build their own models and design their own investigations.It is possible to combine the two approaches (e.g., Eisenberg, 1991; Wilensky, 1995, in preparation-b) by providing prebuilt models that are embedded in programming environments, creating so-called "extensible applications" ( Eisenberg, 1991). This combined approach has the advantages of both prebuilt and buildable models. The challenge of such an approach is to design the right middle level of primitives so that they are neither (a) too low-level so that the application becomes identical to its programming language, nor (b) too high-level so that the application turns into an exercise of running preconceived experiments. The metric by which the optimal level can be judged is in the usefulness to learners. This requires an extensive research program. The findings from this research must inform the development of modeling languages and their embedded extensible applications.
CONCLUDING REMARKS
In the Connected Probability project, learners such as Ellie succeeded in making deep probabilistic arguments that probed at the foundations of the discipline. Having understood the foundational concepts in this deep way, they developed a strong intuitive understanding of such concepts as randomness, distribution, and expectation. Solid intuitions about probability and statistics were clearly developed by learners in this study. This shows that we are not, by our natures, as some have argued, unable to reason intuitively about probability.The Connected Probability project is an instantiation of the Connected Mathematics approach. The key elements of the Connected Mathematics approach that enabled these changes are
ā€¢ The explorations of multiple meanings of concepts and making connections between these different representations.

Like Ellie, they saw the connections between representations of randomness

-290-

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Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Acknowledgments 8
  • Part I - Perspectives in Constructionism 8a
  • 1 - A Word for Learning 9
  • References 24
  • 2 - Perspective-Taking and Object Construction 25
  • Conclusion 32
  • Acknowledgments 34
  • References 34
  • 3 - Elementary School Children's Images of Science 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Conclusions 62
  • Acknowledgments 64
  • Acknowledgments 65
  • Appendix B - Image of Science Interview Guideline 65
  • Part II - Learning Through Design 70a
  • 4 - Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact 71
  • Conclusion 93
  • Acknowledgments 94
  • References 94
  • 5 - Electronic Play Worlds 97
  • Conclusions 119
  • Acknowledgments 121
  • References 121
  • 6 - The Art of Design 125
  • Foreword 125
  • References 158
  • 7 - Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks 161
  • Introduction 161
  • References 172
  • Part III - Learning in Communities *
  • 8 - Social Constructionism and the Inner City Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal 175
  • Introduction 175
  • Acknowledgments 204
  • Appendix - Statistical Data About the Four Corners Neighborhood 204
  • References 205
  • 9 - The MediaMOO Project Constructionism and Professional Community 207
  • Conclusion - Constructionism and Virtual Reality 220
  • Acknowledgments 221
  • References 221
  • 10 - A Community of Designers Learning Through Exchanging Questions and Answers 223
  • Introduction 223
  • References 239
  • 11 - They Have Their Own Thoughts 241
  • Introduction 241
  • Conclusion 251
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • References 253
  • Part IV - Learning About Systems 254a
  • 12 - New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking 255
  • Introduction 255
  • Acknowledgments 266
  • References 267
  • 13 - Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Concluding Remarks 290
  • Acknowledgments 292
  • References 293
  • 14 - Ideal and Real Systems 297
  • Introduction 297
  • Analysis and Conclusions 318
  • Acknowledgments 322
  • References 322
  • Author Index 323
  • Subject Index 329
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